maine trip

September 8, 2009 diario/journal, maine

1st entry – maine 2009

On September 24, I am heading up to Maine to take pics.

The itinerary is to go from Boston up to Portland driving along the coast.

The last time I was in this part of the country I was in college and it was late March early April. A group of us drove from NYC to Boston to Quebec  City. What I remember of Maine is tunnels of snow-covered fir-trees. We had left New York City full of spring. Boston was overcast and dreary. Maine was scary. Giant firs looming over us. I still remember thinking – the trees are going to fall over and bury us, the car battery is going to die, it’s getting dark, I hate winter . . .  Ah! the joys of college.

Quebec City wasn’t much better. One night we were walking on the Plains of Abraham, a historic site in the city, and it began to snow. April snows in Canada are never easy. You’re exhausted from the long months of winter-white and here comes more snow. I had on loafers and my feet froze.

This time I get to revisit Maine with my friend John who actually knows where he’s going. And I get to stop and shoot pictures. He’s supposed to paint, but I haven’t gotten a firm yes on this.

A Side-note
After Calabria, I realized I needed a camera case with wheels. I really like the one I have, but it’s miserable lugging it around. At Rome Fiumicino, I swallow my pride, found a cart and used it to wheel the camera case around. So this will be my first outing with a new, wheeled case.

The Sunday Times, in the travel section, had an article on Maine . It was about the small town where Winslow Homer spent his years painting the Maine coast.

I’ve gotten away from shooting nature, I removed the nature title from the header on the website and replaced it with structures. I’m curious to see what I’m going to do with Maine and its nature. My hope is to find the lines in the rugged coast and to present the landscape as structures. My reference for this approach are the images of Panarea. There too I was stuck in nature, but the images are of structures, volcanic monoliths pushing away the blue and the green. I concentrated on the sun on the rock-face, the white-waves of streaking motorboats, the verticals of sailboats, the pitch of sun-umbrellas, the flat blue horizon, the white-washed housing. I need to find their counterpoints in Maine.

maine trip 2

September 20, 2009 diario/journal, maine

2nd entry – maine 2009

For the time I will be in Maine, the forecast for the area is not sunny. I’m witing this, because I’m slowly learning that the photograph-image can still look OK. I was out at Ohiopyle a couple of weeks ago and I shot at the water’s edge, as a matter of fact I shot kayakers in the rapids. The sky was overcast, and yet you would never know that from the images.

Ohiopyle 091The image of the kayaker has the following information: f/5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/640. I miss the brilliance of the sunlight, but I can still get a decent image.

Slowly, I am understanding how light factors into an image. Earlier I was working on a sunset and as pretty as the image was, it lacked a clear light source. Rather the light was all diffused behind the clouds and the mountains which gave me a great sunset shot, but made the overall image static. Being able to identify the light source gives an image a direction and a focus that the eye can go to. (This is probably a convoluted comment and most professional photographers would have all the right words to express this. I don’t.)

pittsburgh welcomes the world

September 20, 2009 diario/journal, maine

While the G20 meets here, I’m heading out to Maine. This morning I went out shooting only to find town mobbed with workers getting ready for the G20, so I headed to the North Shore. I found the great sign up on Mount Washington and decided to shoot it.

N-Shore 023

This image gives a wider perspective – the ducks, the river, the incline, the mountain and the high-rises that sit on top. The sign is like a base to the structures.

The ducks are there to remind me that no matter if the world is coming to town, Pittsburgh will always be low-key. Last night a friend described the kind of med-students that come to Pittsburgh. She said they are hard-working and smart. Then there is a group that scores well on their tests, but will not come here because it’s Pittsburgh. These gravitate to Boston and San Francisco. The comment was said with some regret and I didn’t care. My feeling is if you want to go and pay to live in Boston and San Francisco and still get the same education, go and good luck.

N-Shore 010

This image on the right is the sign – Pittsburgh Welcomes the World. I get to watch all this from a distance. As the world heads to the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, I’m heading east.

One of the things we are going to do is travel the back-roads. I always like traveling the back-roads. In Italy the back-roads with their 90 degree turns and cliff hanging vistas drive Rose crazy. This summer, I was reluctant to travel the back-roads, because I was by myself and didn’t have the courage to go it alone. However, when Mario drove to Paola using the back-roads it was great fun. When we went to visit Aurelio using the back-roads it was amazing.

On Thursday, I get to head to the back-roads of Maine.

packing and shooting in maine

September 22, 2009 diario/journal, maine

3rd entry – maine 2009

Since Calabria, I have invested in a new camera case with wheels and a small luggage cart. Tonight I tried packing my camera equipment into the new case, but I don’t like it. Also this trip doesn’t have the lay-overs of the trip to Lamezia, so I’m going to use my large shoulder bag. The luggage cart will be fine; I tried it out.

But, I’ll carry the case. Again I’m going from home to the airport, to the gate and then I’m getting picked up at the other end. I also learned in Rome that an airport luggage cart is fine. Once I swallowed my pride and started using the airport luggage cart, having the shoulder bag was not a problem.

The weather for south-eastern Maine is variable, it’s a wait and see thing.

Shooting in Maine

  • I am probably not going to bring a tripod.
    (This is the next thing I have to figure out. Does a strong collapsible tripod exists?) My whole time in Calabria and I used the tripod a couple of times. I lugged it across the ocean and through airports just to use it a couple of times.

  • Most of my work in Calabria was hand-held. I’m finding that I do best with a tripod when I know the area and the environment.
  • I’m preoccupied with figuring out how to shoot nature and make it look like a structure. I practiced this at Ohiopyle last week. (I’ll write more about this after Maine.)

    Ohiopyle 019

  • It’s easiest the shoot nature as structure when I’m working with a man-made object. The supporting arch is not nature, rather it sits in nature.

    Ohiopyle 030

  • For me, the rocks, the log, the water are structures. Can I get away with this designation?
  • storm-troopers in pgh

    September 23, 2009 diario/journal, maine

    4th entry – maine 2009

    In anticipation of the G20, town was crawling with police. Around noon a battalion of storm-troopers was deposited on Liberty Avenue. From the Point all the way up to Seventh Avenue storm-troopers were stationed – two on either side of the street across from each other.

    Storm-Trooper 002

    And I’ll be away during this whole time.

    a house in reading

    September 24, 2009 diario/journal, maine

    5th entry – maine 2009

    John 014I arrived at Logan and Mac picked me up. He drove to Reading and I got to visited with Bev. They have this great house and I had a chance to shoot it. The pic here is probably one that neither of them would have thought of, but finding the picket fence at the top of their back yard, a picket that is strictly ornamental, gave me a great vantage point. I don’t know if they think of their house as having this look.

    It was fun shooting this old New England house. I think of it as standing alone in a field, so I tried to shoot it in a way that isolated it from its neighbors and placed it in the background. The picket fence fools the viewer into thinking that there’s nothing else around, that the house is far in the distance. Oh yes, this is the back of the house and because the yard is on a slope it was easier to capture a far-away look.

    John 023I also discovered a fall flower-garden, in front of the picket, that allowed me to shoot the house out of focus and in the background. For me, the flowers were farmish and added to the isolation and far-away look. To get this shot I lay on the ground as close to the flower as I could get and still keep it in focus. (I always worry that someone will see me on the ground and wonder what the hell I’m doing. If I had had more time and if I was thinking, I should have changed to the wide-angle lens and shot the flowers very close.)

    The inside of John and Bev’s house is beautiful, but it was all mixed up, because they’ve been renovating and I didn’t feel right shooting it in its present state, even though I really wanted to. I love what homes looks like when we’re in the middle of change; the rocking chair we cover; the pictures we lean on furniture; the small, blue vase we keep with fresh flowers even if it is surrounded by plaster-dust.

    a lighthouse, francis of assisi, and a sailboat

    September 24, 2009 diario/journal, maine

    We left Reading and headed north on I-95. (I remember using I95 to get back and forth between New York and DC, New York and Providence, New York and Boston. Back then it seemed the only route through the north east.) We were on our way to Maine, to Ogunquit to be exact.

    Lighthouse 059Our first stop was to see a lighthouse outside of Ogunquit. The image is deceptive, because the lighthouse is on an island that visitors cannot access and there is a channel between the island and the visitors parking lot. This was my first look at the Maine seacoast – a rugged thing with stone fingers poking out into the cold Atlantic.

    My great worry with this trip was that I would not be able to figure out how to shoot nature as structure and what I found was that south eastern Maine is man-made; it has been conquered even if temporarily. Man has built beautiful structures on the rugged stones that cut into the mighty Atlantic. This lighthouse is about man building in the elements, man controlling for the violence of Neptune. The white is as bright as any wash in Panarea.

    The structures here in south-eastern Maine are elegant, minimal and strong, because they have to live with the winds off the Atlantic. There is no room for embellishment, for Victorian gewgaws, a hurricane would make short shrift of any and all appendages. Even the colors used to paint the wooden structures are minimalist – pigment is used sparingly. But the red roof, the red building can be seen for miles.

    Francis 086Francis of Assisi in Maine, there’s a non sequitur. On our way into Ogunquit I saw a sign for a Franciscan Monastery and asked Mac to pull in. He said he had wanted to see the grounds for a while but had never stopped. The place had a 1950 retreat house, much like the novitiate Mac and I lived in at Narragansett, an old mansion that was converted into a chapel, and the grounds had devotional places where the faithful could stop and pray.

    The chapel was a beautiful example of 1970’s Catholic design, a legacy to Sister Corita Kent the artist whose works became the symbols of the social upheavals of that period.

    The sculpture of Francis was at the Ogunquit museum. What are two references to Francis doing in Maine, they’re supposed to be in Italy. The sculpture was a great find and a great surprise, because it captures the simplicity and power of that simple man from Assisi.

    The sculpture is a fountain. The birds light on the bowl and drink. The water drips down gently from the bowl into the earth. The vertical lines are rigid and pull the eye up into the sky. Eventually it will patina green and blend into the landscape.

    Ogunquit 100While at the museum I went out into the gardens facing the Atlantic and saw a sailboat going out, so I started shooting. Only later looking at the pictures on the laptop did I discover the stripe on the sail. I’ll never understand people who leave the land and go out into the sea. (Remember, I came from a medieval hilltop town.) So I always look at sailboats as structures in a sea of blue.

    Sailboats were everywhere, but so were the working boats of local fishermen going out every morning to where the ocean is deep. As a land-person I can’t picture what it must be like to be in the middle of blue vastness having no idea if there are fish below when bringing back fish is your livelihood your family’s income.

    What was surprising was the green stripe on the one sail. I don’t think I saw it white shooting, rather for a split second, the wind turned to sail enough to get the stripe. The buoy to the right of the sail boat was a light green and nice contrast to the dark green stripe. The image, for me, is also about loneliness and fear two words I don’t combine when thinking about land-side environments.

    kennebunk – one

    September 25, 2009 diario/journal, maine

    5th entry – maine 2009

    Kennebunk 101On Friday morning we headed out of Ogunquit going north, through the back roads, towards Kennebunk. We stopped for breakfast at this famous Maine diner and on the menu were baked beans. Baked beans for breakfast, I had to have them and they were good.

    Kennebunk has this great church in the center of town. It was the biggest of the Maine churches and steeples that I had shot. And like all the other churches it too was surrounded by a graveyard. The steeple, above the main tower-base, had five sections to it. The first of the five sections had a large bell-wheel in it. The next sections had a clock – four clocks, one at each cardinal point. A weather vane on a pole topped the steeple no cross marker for these New Englanders.

    So why are all these churches painted white? Here’s the answer – White paint was associated with the color of stable, enduring classical buildings; white spoke the language of virtue and simplicity. White proclaimed prosperity and class consciousness. White paint was more expensive to produce than colored paint; it was recognized as the tint of wealth. (Imagining New England, by Joseph Conforti)

    Kennebunk seems to be a year-round community. I mention this, because so much of south eastern Maine had a seasonal quality to it. It was hard to imagine these beautiful wooden homes being used year-round, especially given the winter and the proximity of the sea. However, Kennebunk had many, many brick homes. As a matter of fact it had the look of a rich suburban community with cul-de-sacs and housing plans.

    kennebunk – two

    September 25, 2009 diario/journal, maine

    Kennebunk 083The New Englander in his green striped sweater and gentleman’s cap worked to repair the steps of the stately Kennebunk Public Library. His dog didn’t bark or run at me as I shot the pictures. (The man was smoking a pipe as he repaired the caulking.)

    The library parking lot was full of cars. And non-working, blond women went in and out carrying colorful bags full of children’s books. (Am I reading too much into the actions of these simple people?)


    Across the street a school of children, dressed in period garb, re-enacted some old, colonial pageant. (We’re too far north for this to be Salem.)


    In Calabria they re-enact the medieval walk to the holy site, all the while chanting words of pleading:
    Santa Maria, Madre di Dio,
    prega per noi peccatori,
    adesso e nell’ora della nostra morte.

    The composition of this image probably reflects my prejudices – the worker bent under the white column of power and power represented by classical architecture. However, there is some hope, he gets to have his dog even if the dog is in the shadows.

    kennebunk – three

    September 25, 2009 diario/journal, maine

    Coast 013Before we left for Portland, we headed over to the beach at Kennebunkport and I got to shoot in the morning light.

    The sun is behind me and Mac is ahead at the edge of the beach-grass. (I’m wrapped up in as many layers as I could find, one that I had just purchased. He’s wearing shorts. Go figure!) It was low-tide and the beach was this huge expanse – wet sands in various hues of water saturation. I don’t remember seeing that kind of expanse anywhere in the Mediterranean. The only other place that had a vast stretch of sandy beach was the Pacific near Los Angeles.

    I hate having my picture taken, but I discovered that I’m OK with shooting shadows. As a matter of fact, I have a whole collection of me in shadow.

    The beach is sprinkled with people up early, walking alone, walking and holding hands, running with golden retrievers, and two old men, one tall and in shadow, the other in shorts and a sleeveless vest. The sands at my feet are littered with prints reminding the morning guests of last night’s lovers.


    September 26, 2009 diario/journal, maine

    you stand there so nice in your blizzard of ice6th entry – maine 2009

    This post was written on Sunday, December 15, 2013.

    I was going through the website removing all the image links and when I got to the maine 2009 category, I wanted to add to it. I wanted an image of Mac and I and I wanted to tell the story since then.

    The trip to Maine was one of my first with camera in tow and the maine 2009 group of posts one of the first journal categories. The time with Mac was wonderful and yet six months after we got back we stopped talking. It’s been 4 years since I last talked to my old friend.

    Ogunquit 005I first met Mac in June of 1968. I was a young man from Northern Ontario who had landed in Narragansett at the Christian Brothers Novitiate. We began to spend time together and by July 4, Mac, Bobby, Steve and I sneaked out of the Novitiate and walked down to his family’s summer home. It was such a simple walk and yet in retrospect it was a very daring thing – to leave the enclosure of the monastery without permission. I think that first excursion, that first breaking of the rules, set up the parameters that I would continue to use when thinking about Mac. But what I’ve come to accept in the last four years, in the silence of that time, is that Mac was never the rule-breaker. He may have led us down to his family’s 4th of July celebration, but he was not the proud rebel. He was a homesick young man.

    Mac left the Brothers, went to graduate school, married, bought a house, had a son, worked and retired. His immigrant friend from Northern Ontario revealed himself to be the true rule-breaker. The old friend took a different path and continued to tarnish the golden rule.

    When I remember Mac, Leonard Cohen’s song One of Us Cannot Be Wrong always comes to mind.

    I lit a thin green candle to make you jealous of me, but the room just filled up with mosquitoes, they heard that my body was free. Then I took the dust of a long sleepless night and I put it in your little shoe. And then I confess that I tortured the dress that you wore for the world to look through.  I showed my heart to the doctor; he said I’d just have to quit. Then he wrote himself a prescription and your name was mentioned in it. Then he locked himself in a library shelf with the details of our honeymoon. And I hear from the nurse that he’s gotten much worse and his practice is all in a ruin.  I heard of a saint who had loved you, so I studied all night in his school. He taught that the duty of lovers is to tarnish the golden rule. And just when I was sure that his teachings were pure he drowned himself in the pool. His body is gone, but back here on the lawn his spirit continues to drool.  An Eskimo showed me a movie he’d recently taken of you. The poor man could hardly stop shivering, his lips and his fingers were blue. I suppose that he froze when the wind took your clothes and I guess he just never got warm. But you stand there so nice in your blizzard of ice, O please let me come into the storm.

    a mirror in portland

    October 6, 2009 diario/journal, maine

    last entry – maine 2009

    Portland 083After the emptiness of the coast we headed to Portland. The ride along Route 1 was the beginning of the return to the real world of asphalt, stop signs and traffic jams. We did stop to shoot at Calvary Cemetery. What was great about the shoot was that I kept the wide-angle lens (12 – 24 mm) and that got me to go up to the subject and shoot it close, real close. It’s my favorite lens, because it forces me to approach the subject – to almost touch it. On a practical level, the lense produces the least amount of distortion.

    I used the wide-angle lens in the Portland Art Gallery a wonderful place. Part of the museum is the McLellan House. “The McLellan House (1801) is the product of a post-Revolutionary building boom, fueled by the revival of an energetic maritime economy, that transformed Maine’s coastal towns and cities. In October, 2002, the Portland Museum of Art reopened to the public the fully restored Federal-era building.”

    The house has no original furnishings but has kept the designated areas – dining room, parlor, foyer. One of the rooms was the play area for the children, and there I found the mirror.